Outrigger Canoe Race, Hawakinui Vaa…..

Dear F&F,

We watched the 170 or so outrigger canoes begin the race right past
where we were anchored at Huahine. There were about 100 other boats
following, escort power boats, families, & other tourist/observers
like us. The shore was lined with 100’s of people cheering them on. It
is a colorful & festive spectacle. It was 4 hours to Raiatea. The lead
outriggers kept up a pace of almost 8 knots. About as fast as “Beach
House” motors. The sea was kind of lumpy, which makes their work
harder. We had to pay close attention to not hit another spectator
boat and stay out of the path of the paddlers.

The shore at the finish of today’s leg had lots of banners & 100’s
more cheering fans too. The Shell Oil team (7 year winner) came in
first. We proudly wore our logo gear given to us by our dock neighbor

We called Jerry Woods cell phone. He is an American boater who we
first met in Ensenada on his Catana 53 catamaran, who bought a house
on Raiatea. He stood on his dock waving. It was not sheltered enough
to anchor right by his house, so we settled near a motu (islet) then
took the dinghy in to visit. The house is nice & airy, wonderful view
of the pass & lagoon. He drove us into town where there was much
post-race revelry. He bought some fruit & wine & we enjoyed visiting
with him back at the house. We ended up moving the boat to an even
more calm area overnight, near the airport. We were able to pick up a
mooring which makes it easy.

November 5th
We didn\’t know the start time of today\’s race so we slipped our lines
by 7:45 a.m. Turns out the start wasn\’t until 9. There were A LOT more
boats following the race today between Raiatea & Tahaa, at least 400!
It felt like we were in the Indy 500 or something. It was remarkable.
I was glad to feel more exhilarated than afraid. I don\’t love driving
in close quarters, but everyone was pretty well behaved & we didn\’t
see any collisions which is a miracle. Except for the front 2-3
canoes, the others had really lumpy water to paddle through due to the
wakes of all the spectator and coaching boats. We were impressed that
the paddlers kept up a pace of nearly 8 knots for 2 hours. Only
slowing a bit when they hit 15 knot head winds. We kept our distance
from the finish in order not to get trapped in the pack. A different
team, The Tahiti Post Office (OPT) won today, so it keeps it

We called our friend Wilfred, assistant manager of the Pearl Beach
Hotel in Tikihau. There is a Pearl Beach property on Tahaa, we
inquired about anchoring there. He called the manager for us & told us
it would be fine. We ended up staying only briefly because the swell
was very lumpy. We moved a ways down to a deep bay where we have a
nice breeze but flat water. Scott changed the transmission oil while I
hung the laundry. We are settled here with only 2 other boats. We saw
many of the smaller power boats zooming back to Raiatea after the
race. The logistics of housing & feeding the 170 x 6 men teams of
racers on each island is really a feat. There were women’s crews as
well, but not nearly as many.

The last race day is tomorrow, Tahaa to Bora Bora. It is such a
striking island, made famous as “Bali Hai” in the movie South Pacific.
That will be about a 4 hour run. We intend to go ashore tomorrow to
partake of the end of race festivities. And we\’ll probably spend
several days at each island as we work our way back to Tahiti. It has
been a great excuse to get out & explore.

Cindy & Scott